woman doing anthropological research

Leading Anthropology Graduate Programs at Universities Around the World

Anthropology, to put it simply, is the study of humankind, humans, society and culture and, their development and history from a biological and cultural point of view.

Anthropologists research, gather data and interpret that data to get a better understanding of humankind, both in the past and present. To do that successfully, they study the origins, culture, traditions, societal structures and norms, mode of life and interactions between people in various communities around the world. This is because humans belonging to different communities all behave and live their lives differently. While all humans require the basics such as food, water, shelter, company, etc. to survive, how they manage to acquire them and develop themselves will vary from culture to culture. Anthropologists study these very differences. They also study the traits and aspects that make us human, such as the physical body, genetics, evolution and adaptation, emotions, languages, etc.

The Purpose of Anthropology

teacher showing the skeleton of an animal
Image Credit: Palomar College

This discipline aims to discover the fascinating diversities in mankind, to identify what we humans all have in common with each other and what differentiates us. It helps us decode the complexities of humankind. Discovering these similarities and differences leads to a)the improvement in one’s understanding of their world, and b) discovering the origins of mankind.

These characteristics, along with an absolute fascination for culture and history, make anthropology a popular degree among students. Another reason for its popularity is the opportunity it presents to work, travel and interact with people of various cultures.

Not only that, anthropology degrees are usually very all-rounded because the discipline combines themes and issues from social sciences, physical science and humanities. Students are also awarded arts or social science degrees, being equipped with generally useful skills such as critical thinking, research, analysis, communication of ideas in an effective and articulate manner, managing a tough and unfamiliar situation, dealing with unknown information, solving problems, comparing and finding differences from information, making connections using information and ideas, organization, working with others, etc. These skills and qualifications combined may be used to use to enter various careers in many industries.

Where do Anthropology Degree Holders Work?

Anthropologists or anthropology degree holders work across various careers using their expertise in anthropology and applying it to other fields. They work in places ranging from government agencies to educational institutions, museums, to NGOs and businesses. They work as researchers working in labs or in the field, as professors and teachers educating young minds, as archaeologists, ethnologists, historians, curators, palaeontologists or as consultants working in offices. They may even work in the media, making documentaries, or in the travel industry, foreign services, management and more.

As Anthropologists

However, those who wish to become anthropologists or continue their training in the field of anthropology decide to acquire advanced degrees by pursuing graduate programs at universities. Anthropology is a competitive field, which means that possessing an advanced degree such as a master’s or a doctorate degree improves career prospects, as individuals are able to specialize in very niche areas of the discipline, in addition to possessing knowledge of anthropology from a broader perspective.

Understanding human practices and cultures requires making observations of behaviours and ways of living, first hand. This is done through ethnographic research. Conducting this type of research requires skills like knowing how to make observations, asking the most relevant questions, and learning to identify patterns in behaviour.  A graduate program in anthropology polishes an individual’s ethnographic and archaeological research techniques required in the discipline. This is why, in most cases, a master’s or a doctorate in anthropology is required to become an anthropologist.

Holding a more advanced degree also assures work that is more challenging, holds more responsibility and authority.

The Four Conventional Sub-Fields of Anthropology

There are typically four sub-fields of anthropology that individuals prefer to specialize in –  archaeology, biological anthropology, socio-cultural anthropology and linguistic anthropology. Each requires specific skills but they mostly revolve around applying theories, making use of well-organized methodologies, formulating and testing hypotheses and interpreting results.

Archaeology in anthropology, studies cultures, lifestyles, socio-political and economic systems of a specific period in time, through scientific analysis and interpretation of archaeological findings. It involves the study of objects and materials remaining from cultures from the past and present.

Biological anthropology studies humans with a focus on establishing a relationship between biology and culture. It involves topics such as evolutionary biology, genetics, primatology, forensic anthropology, etc. Anthropologists specialising in this sub-discipline, for instance, study fossils to interpret human evolution or, they study other primates to compare human behaviour to their behaviour.

graphic depicting linguistic anthropology
Image Credit: Columbian College

Linguistic anthropology is the study of the different communication methods used by cultures and societies around the world. Linguistic anthropologists aim to find similarities and relationships between languages and find out how we humans communicate with each other. To achieve this goal, they focus on how languages function in their various forms and how languages evolve over time and how language is used every day to communicate. Understanding this form of communication provides an understanding of the significance and mechanism of languages, what the relationship between languages and cultures are and how they can shape a person’s identity.

Socio-cultural anthropology focuses on studying various cultures, cultural developments, evolution, changes and cultural exchanges in the past and the present. This sub-field tries to explain how social transformation occurs and why cultures differ.

In addition to these four sub-fields, individuals may explore numerous other areas of anthropology, such as forensic anthropology, applied anthropology, educational anthropology, environmental anthropology, medical anthropology, dance anthropology, psychological anthropology, physical anthropology, social anthropology, visual anthropology and many more. The availability of these fields of study would depend on the university being enrolled in.

The Pathway to Becoming an Anthropologist

To become an anthropologist, generally interested individuals begin by completing a bachelor’s degree in anthropology or in the social sciences. This familiarizes them with the fundamentals of anthropology and with research methods in the social sciences.

Then, they move on to pursue a graduate program to earn an advanced degree. The traditional pathway is to first complete a master’s degree before earning a doctorate because most doctoral degree programs require the completion of a master’s degree in a similar discipline. Depending on the university and the program offered by them, in some cases, a master’s degree isn’t required as a pre-requisite, a bachelor’s degree is sufficient. This option isn’t always available.

degree scroll and graduation cp
Image Credit: Time

The Master’s degree program usually takes 1-2 years and requires conducting research for a thesis to be submitted at the end of the program. At this point, many decide to end their academic journey here and move on to the professional world. Others decide to continue and pursue a doctorate degree. This further improves career prospects.

The doctoral degree awarded for anthropology is a Doctor of Philosophy or PhD. Completing a PhD in anthropology usually takes 4-5 years but it may less or more time depending on the university, specialization or research topic. Students in a PhD program work with a supervisor or advisor so they can be consulted to guide them with their research, keep track of academic progress and plan their careers. A PhD teaches candidates to conduct original academic research and fieldwork in their specialized field. Being awarded a PhD allows them job opportunities that aren’t given to bachelor or master’s degree holders, like conducting independent research, for example. It can also create the pathway to becoming university professors and museum curators, as anthropologists.

Top Graduate Programs in Anthropology around the world

Now that we understand what anthropology is, what an anthropologist does, what qualifications they require and what their career scope is, let us look at a list of some of the top institutions around the English-speaking world and their graduate programs in anthropology. A graduate program here refers to intensive and specialized programs that will lead to acquiring an advanced degree such as a master’s or doctorate.

North America

1. Harvard University 

Tozzer Anthropology Building at harvard
Tozzer Library at Harvard University. The main library housing anthropological resources. Image Credit: Arch Daily

Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a private non-profit research institution. The university is considered one of the most reputable and prestigious schools in the United States and one of the finest in the world. For many years, it has ranked as one of the top 5 higher education institutes globally. Even in the latest edition of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022, Harvard University ranked 2nd place, internationally. Founded in 1636, it is the oldest higher education institute in the country.

Harvard University is accredited by The New England Commission of Higher Education, a regional accrediting organization in the U.S.

The Department of Anthropology of the university’s Graduate School of Arts and Science offers graduate programs in Anthropology. It offers a Master of Arts degree in Medical Anthropology and a PhD in Social Anthropology.

The M.A. in Medical Anthropology is an intensive year-long program intended for those who have had experience working in healthcare before pursuing their masters. The degree covers themes and ethnographic issues such as disease, epidemics, mental illness, social suffering, stigma, ethics, substance abuse, pharmaceuticals, history of medicine and science and more.

The PhD in Social Anthropology covers issues surrounding ethnic politics, gender studies, globalism, linguistics, semiotic anthropology, the media, the formation of a diaspora, etc. The program involves intensive coursework, examinations, fieldwork and the production of a dissertation under the guidance of an advisor.

The objective of this program is to find innovative methods to better monitor cultural developments in this fast-paced era that is driven by technology. Students may opt to specialize in Media Anthropology or Medical Anthropology for their PhD. The estimated time of completion of the doctorate is 7 years.

Students can even apply for a non-terminal Master’s degree in Social Anthropology in the process of earning a PhD, upon meeting certain requirements.

Equipped with the oldest and complex library systems in the U.S. and housing the world’s largest academic library, students never fall short of resources for their research work.

Click here for more details on the Graduate Program in Anthropology

2. University of California Los Angeles

uc los angeles building
UCLA campus. Image Credit: UCLA

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) is a public research university that was established in 1919 in Los Angeles, California. It is another well-known and reputable higher education institute. The university is best known for offering a variety of comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs.

UCLA is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), a regional accrediting agency assessing and evaluating the quality of education offered at the university.

The Department of Anthropology at UCLA is considered one of the top ten departments in the United States and it has maintained this status for many years. It encourages research and collaboration across the world on anthropological topics such as human development, culture, communication, the nature of evolutionary processes, etc.

Graduate Programs awarding Master of Arts and PhD degrees are offered by this department.

The M.A. degree can be pursued on the path to attaining the PhD. The 2-year long M.A. degree program expects students to display a profound understanding and knowledge in anthropology and demonstrate their ability to do original work in at least one specialization from any one of the four conventional sub-fields of anthropology.

Depending on the sub-field selected, students must appear for examinations, write research papers or write up a thesis. After 2 years, a committee makes a recommendation to the faculty determining whether a student shall be awarded the M.A. and if they should continue to the PhD program.

PhD in Anthropology at UCLA

The PhD degree program in anthropology is highly accredited not just within the U.S. but internationally as well. Research work is supported by international scientific organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control, the National Geographic Society, the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Science Foundation, among others. The program and faculty are renowned for their quality of teaching.

Students can enter the PhD program based on faculty vote either when the M.A. in Anthropology is being awarded or through a master’s degree in anthropology or a similar field from elsewhere. They must be able to prove their understanding and knowledge of anthropology.

The PhD program is more intensive and focuses on more specialized branches of anthropology. To complete the degree, students must appear for written and oral examinations, conduct original research work that contributes to existing anthropological literature and write a dissertation based on that work. The PhD degree program may be completed within 7-8 years or earlier.


Visit the UCLA Department of Anthropology website for more details on their graduate program.

3. University of California Berkeley

UC Berkeley campus arial view
UC Berkeley campus. Image Credit: Visit Berkeley

University of California Berkeley (UCB) is a public research university located in Berkeley, California. It was established in 1868, becoming the first of the nine campuses of the University of California system and the second oldest higher education establishment in California.

Considered one of the leading universities in the world, UCB is home to many world-renowned research institutions, such as the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, the Space Sciences Laboratory and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute.

Like UCLA, UCB is also accredited by WSCUS.

The UCB Department of Anthropology has been ranked one of the top five departments in the U.S. Graduate students at Berkeley conduct research based on different parts of the world. This research work is supported by departmental grant programs. In addition to having an experienced faculty, the university is also frequented by experts in the field who come and share their insights and experiences with students.

The department’s graduate program offers a PhD in anthropology and another PhD specializing in medical anthropology. Those enrolled in the PhD in anthropology program may, however, specialize in archaeology, biological anthropology and sociocultural anthropology.

The PhD in Medical Anthropology is a joint program offered by UCB and the University of California, San Francisco. This program covers topics such as psychiatric and psychological anthropology, health, disability studies, immigration, intersections of medicine and social theory and many more topics.

PhD students are trained and encouraged to present their research to the public, to teach and partake in a range of activities relevant to them. The program usually takes 4-6 years to complete, but it can be extended to 8 years.

A Unique M.A. in Folklore at UCB

The graduate program also offers an M.A. in Folklore with the option to pursue a PhD in another discipline. The 1.5-2 year long M.A. in folklore is a one of a kind program that focuses on establishing a relationship between what is traditional and what is modern, the different forms of informal cultural expression, the importance of folklore, and the critical evaluation of the concepts of tradition and heritage that mould society and political scenario.


Visit the UCB Department of Anthropology website for more details on their graduate program.

4. Stanford University

ariat picture of Stanford University campus
Stanford University campus. Image Credit: Beck Diefenbach via Reuters

Stanford University is a private research university located in Stanford, California. Established in 1885, it is another prestigious educational institution in the United States and internationally, ranking number 3 worldwide, according to QS World University Rankings 2022 and 4th, according to The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022.

It is a place that promotes innovation, entrepreneurship, research and academic excellence. Stanford University is also accredited by WSCUC.

Some impressive facts about Stanford University are:

  • The university has a complex and rich library system, housing 20 libraries.
  • It has a $1.93 billion sponsored research budget
  • It has a very low student to faculty ratio – 5:

The Department of Anthropology of the School of Humanities and Sciences offers top-quality graduate programs that explore multiple branches and areas of anthropology, such as archaeology, ecology, evolution, linguistics, medical anthropology, political economy and science and technology. It offers an M.A. in Anthropology and a PhD in Anthropology.

The M.A. in Anthropology trains students to acquire in-depth knowledge and skill in anthropology through courses, independent research, field research, preparing them to be professionals in the field or for a PhD in Anthropology. This program allows specialization n archaeology or culture and society. The degree program is completed within 1 year.

The PhD in Anthropology offers two tracks, the archaeology track and the culture and society track. Students are supported and encouraged to conduct original field research. Additionally, the department even offers research opportunities like the Franz Boas summer scholars program. The program also offers a PhD Minor degree program that allows certain PhD students to choose a minor in another discipline along with their PhD.


Click here for more details on the anthropology graduate program at Stanford University.

5. University of Toronto

university of toronto campus
University of Toronto St. George Campus. Image Credit:Trip

The University of Toronto is a public research university located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Founded in 1827, today is one of the world’s leading research institutions. It is currently the highest-ranking university in Canada according to QS World University Rankings 2022 and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022. 

University of Toronto’s Department of Anthropology, under the Faculty of Arts and Science, offers graduate programs awarding M.A., M.Sc. and PhD degrees upon completion.

The M.A. degree program offers specializations in archaeology, linguistic and semiotic anthropology, medical anthropology, evolutionary or biological anthropology and socio-cultural anthropology. While the M.Sc. degree program offers specializations in archaeology, medical anthropology and evolutionary anthropology. The Master’s begins with the broader aspects of anthropology before narrowing down the more specialized field. It usually takes 1 year to complete the M.A. degree program and 2 years for the M.Sc. program.

For the PhD program, a personalised program of study is created for every student for them to carry out original research work. Students work under the guidance of an advisor to do research involving fieldwork and analysis. At the University of Toronto, a Master’s degree isn’t necessarily required as a pre-requisite. So, those pursuing the PhD degree program directly from a Bachelor’s degree, are expected to complete their degree in 5 years. While those entering with a Master’s degree complete it in 4 years.

Additionally, graduate students enrolled in a program offered by the Department of Anthropology, allow students to pursue collaborative specializations. These are graduate courses designed in collaboration with other departments in the University of Toronto, allowing a more holistic approach to learning. Some of the courses within the field of anthropology available are, Environmental Studies, Ethic and Pluralism Studies, Food Studies, Global Health, Indigenous health, South Asian Studies, Women and Gender Studies, among others.

Click here for more details on the University of Toronto graduate program in Anthropology


1. University of Amsterdam

University Of Amsterdam Campus Front View
The University of Amsterdam. Image Credit: Shiksha

The University of Amsterdam is a public-funded research university in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The university offers a large and diverse range of advanced degrees offered in English, attracting international students to study at one of the top 20 universities in Europe.

The University of Amsterdam is the largest higher education institute in all of the Netherlands and one of the largest research establishments in Europe. The university was established in 1632.

It is, additionally, accredited by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO), which is an independent accreditation agency responsible for evaluating and assessing the quality of higher education in the Netherlands and Flanders. This is the organization that also oversees the University of Amsterdam. Accreditation is already a prerequisite for the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs to be funded by the government.

The university’s Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences offers comprehensive graduate Master of Science degrees in Medical Anthropology and Sociology and Cultural and Social Anthropology.

The M.Sc. in Medical Anthropology and Sociology places emphasis on healthcare in the political, economic and cultural context. It is a rigorous 1-year program that involves doing individual fieldwork and requires the completion of a thesis. The fieldwork can be done within the Netherlands or elsewhere. Students can also select one elective course that is relative to the field of health and healthcare, such as Global Mental Health; Sex, Reproduction and Development, Materialities in Practice or Epidemic Threats and Disasters.

The M.Sc. in Cultural and Social Anthropology provides students with the opportunity to direct their own ethnographic research projects. The program is designed to include sufficient fieldwork to allow students to reflect on present-day social and cultural scenarios. The program also covers areas such as migration and mobility, gender and sexuality, environment and sustainability, political activism and more. Furthermore, this programme offers two tracks that students can opt for – the visual anthropology track and the applied anthropology track. The M.Sc. Cultural and Social Anthropology is a 1-year-long program.

Visit https://www.uva.nl/en for more information.

2. University of St. Andrews

St Salvator's college st andrews scotland
St Salvator’s College, the oldest college of the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland. Image Credit: DeAgostini via iNews

The University of St. Andrews is a public research university in St. Andrews Scotland. This prestigious institution, which was founded in 1413, is the oldest university in Scotland and the third oldest in the English-speaking world. It is an internationally acclaimed university popular among international students.

The University of St. Andrews ranks 1st in Scotland, as per the Guardian University Guide 2022 and number 1 in the United Kingdom, according to The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022. Among other factors, the educational establishment is best known for its research, student life, graduate results, quality of teaching, resources and facilities. For instance, the University of St. Andrews has a vast collection of ethnographic materials and an entire anthropological library, which, along with the university library, provides plenty of research materials for anthropology students.

University of St. Andrews’ Department of Anthropology at the School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies offers several Master of Research or MRes degrees and a PhD in Social Anthropology.

Anthropology Graduate Programs at St. Andrews

The first MRes degree is offered in Social Anthropology, which is a program by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This degree focuses on developing knowledge in the field of anthropology at a broader level, training students to design and conduct research.

Another MRes degree is offered in Social Anthropology with Latin American and Caribbean Studies. As the name suggests, this degree is ideal for those who wish to specialize in and pursue further studies in the Americas. This program is, however, unavailable for 2022.

Next, there is an MRes degree in Social Anthropology with Pacific Studies,  which focuses on the cultures, social structures and history of the Pacific region, namely, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia.

And lastly, an MRes in Anthropology, Art and Perception. This degree deals with research in the anthropology of human creative expression in the form of art, material culture and visual expressions.

Each of these MRes degrees takes 1 year to complete.

The university also offers a 4-year long Master of Arts Honours Degree in Social Anthropology focusing on cultures in the Pacific, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Central Asia.

The PhD degree program in Social Anthropology is completed within a duration of 3 years or more. This program involves independent specialized research and requires the production of a 30,000-word dissertation under the guidance of a supervisor.


Click here for more information on the postgraduate degrees at the University of St. Andrews.

3. University of Cambridge

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge. Image Credit: Greg McCormick via Flickr

Another ancient university in the United Kingdom is the famous University of Cambridge. It is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in the middle ages, in 1209, it is the fourth oldest university in the world. It is perhaps one of the most prestigious and reputable educational institutions in the world.

The Department of Archaeology and Anthropology of the Faculty of Human, Social and Political Sciences, at The School of the Humanities and Social Sciences,  offers three types of graduate degrees; a Master of Philosophy or MPhil, an MRes and a PhD.

Graduate Degrees in Anthropology

The first program is an MPhil in Social Anthropology. This is an intensive 11-month  degree program for students with very little prior knowledge in anthropology or its methods. This program focuses on the main issues in existing anthropological theories and trains in the analysis and interpretation of anthropological data, to contribute to ongoing debates in the discipline.

There is also an MPhil offered in Social Anthropological Research. This is a 9 month Master’s degree program that is more suited to those students with previous knowledge in the field of anthropology and for those who wish to specialize in different branches of the discipline.

Another MPhil degree is available in Health, Medicine and Society. This is also a 9-month long degree that collaborates with the departments of history and philosophy of science, social anthropology and sociology. It allows the study of health and medicine through a social, ethical and historical perspective.

The last of the Master’s degrees are the MRes in Social Anthropology which is a 1-year degree program training students to research in the field of social anthropology and producing a 15,000-word dissertation at the end of the program.

Lastly, there is the PhD in Social Anthropology which involves fieldwork for a duration of 12 to 18 months and research work under an advisor or supervisor.

With over 100  libraries in the university and a separate one for social anthropology, there are more than sufficient research and academic materials available to facilitate attaining the degree.


Click here for more details on the postgraduate degrees in anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

4. University of Copenhagen

University of Copenhagen building
The University of Copenhagen. Image Credit:

The University of Copenhagen, located in Copenhagen, Denmark, is a public research university that was founded in 1479. It is one of the leading higher education institutions in Scandinavia and all of Europe. As per most major university ranking systems, the University of Copenhagen maintains the top rank within Denmark and is within the top 3 positions in the Nordic Region.

It is a desirable university for international students for its availability of courses and degree programs in English. It is also desirable because of its high research outcomes and the overall encouragement towards original research work, and the provision of high-quality education and facilities.

The Department of Anthropology at the Graduate School of Social Sciences offers an M.Sc. and a PhD degree in Anthropology.

The M.Sc. in Anthropology is a 2-year program that focuses on developing knowledge in a theme or specialization. Students may specialize in Business and Organizational Anthropology or Anthropology of Health. The program also polishes the students’ research skills through fieldwork and the production of a thesis.

The 3 year PhD degree in Anthropology focuses on fieldwork and independent research specializing in areas such as health, migration, conflict and conflict resolution, climate change and more


Find more details at https://anthropology.ku.dk/studies/


1. Australian National University

australia national university building
ANU building. Image Credit: ANU

Australia National University (ANU) is a high ranking public research university in Canberra, Australia. The university is ranked number 1 in Australia according to QS World University Rankings 2022 and 2nd place according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022.

ANU is one of the top research institutions in the world and has a reputation for being one of the top universities for anthropology. The university offers a diverse range of courses and specializations; it has more than 35 anthropologists working at the university, and has excellent resources in its 6 libraries,  containing a vast collection of books, newspapers, official documents, rare books and manuscripts, theses, past years exam papers and more. These are only a few of the reasons for its reputation.

The School of Archaeology and Anthropology under the ANU College of Arts and Sciences’ Research School of Humanities and the Arts offers Master’s and Doctoral degree programs where research and lessons surround issues and topics such as colonialism, globalisation, gender, human health, ecology, visual anthropology, development of traditional societies, social organization, anthropology of emotion, biosocial anthropology, language and culture, etc. in Australia, Melanesia, Southeast Asia, India, Polynesia and Germany.

Masters and PhD Degree Programs in Anthropology

First of all, the school offers a 2 year Master of Anthropology degree program focused on the use of ethnography to study complex issues such as climate change, discrimination, and the influences of government policies, technology and products on people. The program equips students with knowledge and training in ethnographic research techniques and anthropological theories.

It also offers a Master’s in Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development. The 2-year degree program covers themes like the environment, gender, health, conflict, indigenous development and more. The program trains students with methods to apply critical social inquiry and participatory processes to manage global developments.

The Master’s in Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development is also available as a 1.5-year online degree program.

The last of the Master degree is in Biological Anthropology. At ANU, it is considered a separate discipline. The program trains students to study humankind in the past or present from the point of view of archaeology and biological anthropology. They engage in fieldwork and lab work to develop relevant skills. This discipline explores the evolution of primates, human evolution and behaviour, forensic anthropology, bioarchaeology, ecology, etc. In this program, it is possible to specialize in any of the following four areas– human evolution, bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology, environmental anthropology and climate change and lastly, primate and human behaviour.

The PhD in Anthropology and Biological Anthropology trains students to do fieldwork and engages them in conducting their own fieldwork, based on which they must write a thesis, with the guidance of a supervisor. PhD students spend around 3-6 years completing the program.

An option to pursue an MPhil in Anthropology for 1.5 years for those who wish to acquire a qualification verifying their ability to do advanced research, but do not wish to spend as long as 3 years to acquire it.


Click here for more details on graduate programs in anthropology at ANU

2. University of Auckland

The University of Auckland is a public research university located in Auckland, New Zealand. Ranking number 1 in New Zealand according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022, and QS World University Rankings 2021.

The University of Auckland is the largest and most prestigious university in the country. It also happens to be the biggest research organization. Additionally, the university houses the largest university library in the country.

The Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland offers postgraduate degrees in anthropology. There is a Master of Art’s and PhD degree in Anthropology.

University of Auckland building
The University of Auckland. Image Credit:  Think Geoenergy

The M.A. in Anthropology is a 1-1.5 year program, where students have the option to study sub-fields such as archaeology, biological anthropology, social anthropology and ethnomusicology. The program, however, also covers themes such as material culture, prehistory, evolution and primatology, art and performance, religion, gender, economic, historical, medical and political anthropology and more.

The PhD program in Anthropology ranks within the top 50, globally, as per the 2021 QS World University Rankings by Subject. The program offers specializations in the four aforementioned sub-fields of anthropology, with a focus on Australia and the Pacific.

Find more information about the graduate program here. 


1. National University of Singapore

national university of singapore
Education Resource Centre at University Town, NUS. Image Credit: NUS

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is an autonomous research university located in Singapore. Established in 1905, it is the oldest and the most prestigious school in Singapore. The university is also well respected internationally as it is regarded as a high quality educational and research institution, which ultimately results in a high global ranking.

The university ranks 11th globally according to the QS World University Rankings 2022 and number 1 in Asia according to the QS World University Rankings by Region.

Moreover, the university has a diverse student population with students coming from over 100 countries. The university also houses some of the nation’s Research Centres of Excellence, like the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore, the Centre for Quantum Technology and Mechanobiology Institute. In terms of education, NUS has a multi-disciplinary approach to learning and research which provides a very holistic learning experience. One that prepares students for the professional world.

There is only one graduate program in this discipline that is offered by the NUS Department of Sociology under the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. It is an intensive and in-depth PhD program in anthropology. Some modules that students require to complete are visual ethnography or producing ethnography, anthropological perspective and other module research techniques and methods.  The program involves fieldwork, data collection, writing a thesis and appearing for examinations. The duration of the program is 4.5 years.

Click here for more details on the PhD program in Anthropology.

2. University of Delhi

Department of Anthropology building
Department of Anthropology at the University of Delhi. Image Credit: Delhi University 

The University of Delhi, also known as Delhi University, is a collegiate public university in New Delhi, India founded in 1922. It is considered one of the highly reputed universities in India. It is approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC), a government body that is responsible for assessing and maintaining the standards of universities in India. A UGC approved university means that the university is valid, genuine and recognized by the Indian government.

Delhi University is also accredited by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), a UGC-funded government organization in charge of evaluating and accrediting higher education institutes in India.

The university is especially popular for its graduate programs and it is considered a top university for higher studies in anthropology in the country.

The Department of Anthropology in the Faculty of Science offers M.Sc., MPhil degree programs at the Master’s level and a PhD at the doctorate level.

Advanced Degrees in Anthropology at Delhi University

The first is a 2-year long M.Sc. degree in Anthropology with a focus on human evolution, adaptation, human origin, genetics, the role of society and culture and archaeological anthropology. The program also allows the selection of courses from a vast range of elective courses. Some of these courses cover physical anthropology, social anthropology, archaeological anthropology, population studies, family, marriage and kinship, palaeoanthropology, anthropology theory, biostatistics and computational anthropology, physiological anthropology, molecular anthropology, statistics in biological anthropology, psychological anthropology, ecological anthropology, demographic anthropology, urban anthropology, forensic anthropology, medical anthropology, visual anthropology, business and corporate anthropology, anthropology of disaster and many more.

The aim of the program is to be able to develop in-depth knowledge in the field, identify health problems and social issues in communities,  provide solutions based on research and understand the overall need and significance of anthropological research and its role in making policies.

Completing the degree requires appearing for examinations and writing a dissertation based on fieldwork done as part of the program.

The second master’s degree is an MPhil in Anthropology. This program is also done over 2 years, but it can be extended for another year. Some courses in this program are research methodology and statistical methods in anthropology, Dermatoglyphics, forensic anthropology, coastal anthropology, Neuroanthropology, Cyber anthropology, Kinanthropology, Gerontological Anthropology and physiological anthropology and more.

In the PhD program, the coursework remains the same as in the MPhil in Anthropology program. However, the research and fieldwork are far more intensive, done over a period of 3-6 years.

For more information visit: http://anthro.du.ac.in/index.html

3. Chinese University of Hong Kong

The Chinese University of Hong Kong campus
The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Image Credit: CUHK

The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) is a public research university located in Hong Kong. It was established in 1963 with the objective to bring China and the Western world together.

CUHK today ranks in the top 50 universities globally according to both QS World University Rankings 2022 and Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022. 

And it is best known for its campus facilities, its emphasis on research and for being a premier university in Hong Kong and Asia.

The university’s Department of Anthropology offers graduate programs that award Masters and Doctoral degrees.

The department offers a Master of Arts in Anthropology where students learn about anthropological theories, learn to connect ideas from a cross-cultural and historical viewpoint and deal with socio-political issues. The program lasts 1 year but can be extended to 3 years. While there is fieldwork involved, this degree does not require the submission of a thesis. However, research papers will frequently need to be submitted.

MPhil and PhD in anthropology are offered as research programs in the discipline. These degrees are far more intensive and require working with a supervisor to design and write a dissertation.

In the MPhil degree, students take some courses, conduct fieldwork, then write a thesis based on their fieldwork. This equips them with the knowledge to conduct their own research projects and fieldwork in the future. The MPhil is completed within 2 years.

The PhD in anthropology is a 4-year program where students take only a few courses and exams and spend most of their time designing their own research, conducting fieldwork and writing a dissertation.


Click here to visit the CUHK website for more details on this program.

Online and Blended Graduate Programs in Anthropology

Online learning deviates from the traditional method of learning on campus. This allows many more the opportunity to pursue courses and degrees as they become more accessible and affordable. It is more flexible when it comes to completing assignments, and even grasping the lessons. One can learn at their own pace as learning materials are accessible at any time, meaning they can be accessed again and again.

While there are more options to pursue bachelor’s degrees in anthropology online, there are limited schools that offer graduate programs online. Some aren’t completely online, they’re blended, meaning a part of the program has to be completed on-site. Additionally, most schools do not offer PhD programs online. The limited schools offering online graduate programs will almost always offer a master’s degree as the highest qualification. The following schools are just some to offer top-quality graduate programs in anthropology.

1. Harvard Extension School

The Harvard Extension School is currently offering an online anthropology and archaeology graduate program, which upon completion will reward a ‘Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies Anthropology and Archaeology online’.

The extension school is a part of Harvard University. It was established in an attempt to make quality education more accessible to the busy lives of adult learners.

For this program, the majority of the courses may be taken online, but earning a degree requires some on-site learning for a minimum of three courses.

The total degree must be completed within 5 years.

Find more details about the program here.

2. Massey University New Zealand


Massey University entrance sign
Image Credit: Massey University

Massey University is a public university located in New Zealand. It provides research training and focuses on research-based education. The university offers a well-structured, intensive and wide range of distance learning programs. Massey University is, in fact, a top institution for online learning, offering both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. The university offers a Master of Arts degree program in Social Anthropology through distance learning, for 1.5 years.

Distance learning is done through the university’s online learning platform, which is used to attend lectures, interact with classmates, submit coursework, participate in quizzes, etc. and repeatedly access classes.

The program focuses on exploring anthropological theories in the past and present, anthropology in the present day, ethnography and fieldwork.


Click here to find out more about the M.A. in Social Anthropology program.

3. HMKW – Hochschule für Medien, Kommunikation und Wirtschaft

logo of HMKW University
Image Credit: Wikipedia

Hochschule für Medien, Kommunikation und Wirtschaft (HMKW) or the University of Applied Sciences for Media, Communication and Management is a private university located in Germany, with campuses in Berlin, Cologne and Frankfurt. The university is approved by the state and is accredited by the German Council of Science and Humanities.

The HMKW Berlin campus offers a 2-year long-distance learning Master’s degree program in English. At the end of the program, the student is awarded an M.A. in Visual and Media Anthropology. Teaching, coursework, presentations, etc. are done online through various online platforms and virtual classrooms.

This degree is ideal for people who wish to work in the media, filming and making documentaries, in the VR industry, along with being qualified to work at museums, government organizations, NGOs, etc.

It is interesting to note that all of HMKW’s Master’s programs are accredited by the Foundation for International Business Administration Accreditation (FIBAA), which is an accreditation agency for all German-speaking countries, assuring the quality of the degree.

Click here for more details on the program. 

Picking the Right Program and University

anthropologist doing fieldwork
Image Credit: Southern Utah University

The universities and graduate programs listed in this post are just a few of the many that exist. The process of selecting the ‘right’ degree to pursue and the ‘right’ university can be daunting. People have their own process of making decisions. Some like to look at rankings and accreditations while others look at the tuition fees. A more holistic way to decide would be to perhaps assess the choice from all angles. Taking into account factors like personal interest, student to faculty ratio, tuition fees and additional costs, duration of the program, career services, career prospects, professors, opportunities to gain some work experience, library resources and services, extra-curricular activities, student life, amenities and specializations available, along with ranking and accreditation.


Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Click here for more articles like this. 

Leave a Reply